Sentencing arguments are being made for David and Collet Stephan, convicted of failing to provide the necessaries of life for their 18-month-old son, Ezekiel. A medical examiner ruled the boy died of bacterial meningitis. Here are some key dates court heard about in the last days of the boy’s life:
Aug. 20, 2010: Ezekiel Stephan is born at home with the assistance of birthing assistant Terry Meynders, who is also a registered nurse.
Feb. 27, 2012: Ezekiel takes ill at the family home in Glenwood, Alta. His mother describes him as having a cold, stuffy nose and trouble breathing. “The sound he was making was heartwrenching. This isn’t the kind of sound you want to hear from your child,” she testifies later at the trial.
Feb. 28-March 5, 2012: Ezekiel is treated for what his parents believed to be croup, an upper airway infection that leads to a barking cough. In addition to regular smoothies, they give the boy olive leaf extract, garlic, hot peppers and horseradish. They also attempt to help his breathing with cool air and a humidifier.
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March 5, 2012: Ezekiel seems to improve. His father says the boy is not 100 per cent, but he no longer has any difficulty breathing and is able to go to preschool. He plays with his toys and manages to eat some solid food.
March 6, 2012: Ezekiel suffers a setback. He is “unusually lethargic,” lays in bed the entire day and his only response is to moan unhappily. He doesn’t eat or drink and is exhibiting unusual neurological symptoms.
March 7, 2012: Ezekiel seems to improve again. His abnormal movements stop and he can watch TV, but still isn’t playing normally.
March 8-10, 2012: Ezekiel’s parents note he seems to be gradually improving. He regains a bit of his appetite, but is not active or playful.
March 11, 2012: Ezekiel’s symptoms worsen again. He refuses to eat or drink and is lethargic. His parents notice his body is very stiff.
March 12, 2012: Ezekiel’s body is so stiff that his back is arched. He is getting fluids through an eyedropper because he will not drink on his own. Meynders comes to the home and checks his vitals. She suggests he could possibly have viral meningitis and says she tells the mother she should take the boy to a doctor. “It did not jump out at me that he was that seriously ill,” Meynders testifies.
March 13, 2012: The Stephans head to Lethbridge to pick up an echinacea mixture from a naturopath. Ezekiel is too stiff to sit in his car seat and has to lie on a mattress in the vehicle. Back at home that evening, the boy stops breathing on a couple of occasions before his parents leave home to meet an ambulance. The breathing equipment in the ambulance it too large to properly help a small child. The boy is taken to hospital in Cardston and then to Lethbridge for transport to Calgary by air.
March 14, 2012: Ezekiel arrives at Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary where doctors tell the parents the boy is showing very little brain activity and the prognosis is bleak. He is put on life support.
March 16, 2012: Ezekiel dies.